Way before we are considered old by society, we’re already aging on the inside at a rate that’s unique to each of us. Human cells from the skin to muscle, to immune cells have a natural lifespan that is determined by genetics, stress, environmental factors or disease. The process is called Cell Death. Cells naturally slow down and stop dividing, and eventually each individual cell is broken down by the body and cleared out. The issue we’re looking at today is the frail in-between stage after the cell stops dividing called “cell senescence”.
It’s in the spotlight because it can cause us to age even faster.
What Are Senescent Cells?
Cell senescence takes place when a cell is no longer healthy or actively proliferating. Senescence is a protective mechanism by the body to prevent old or damaged cells replicating poor quality DNA – the cell is signaled to stop dividing, thereby preventing the development of diseases such as cancer.
When we’re young, the body does a good job of clearing senescent cells out fast, so that only healthy cells remain in the body. But as we get older, the body is less efficient at this clearing job and often leaves senescent cells in place where they are not directly causing disease, yet they still form part of our body’s structure and are not entirely paused.
Why do Senescent Cells Accelerate Aging?
The problem with senescent cells remaining in the body is that although they are not proliferating or causing disease (which is good), they shed pro-inflammatory compounds which can affect the cells around them. Greying hair is a perfect example – once you find one grey hair, a hair in which the melanocytes have turned senescent, it often isn’t long before the hairs beside it start to turn grey too. And the older you get, the faster those patches of grey seem to spread.
Other common signs of aging follow the same pattern in that once they begin it feels like a snowball effect, whether we’re talking about hair, wrinkles, cataracts, osteoarthritis or arterial plaque build-up among others. As the body’s ability to kill and clear out senescent cells diminishes, they hang around in the tissues in greater numbers and their aging effect gets stronger.
Using Peptides to Stop the Aging Effect of Senescent Cells
Longevity researchers are leading the market in figuring out how to target senescent cells without damaging healthy cells in order to potentially reverse the aging process. They have shown that reducing the number of senescent cells in the body should aid in increasing the lifespan in humans as it can in mice.
The good news is, these researchers have discovered a type of peptide that pushes senescent cells into cell death so that they can be cleared away, their aging effects on the body diminished, and young, healthy cells can continue to thrive.
New Peptide Therapies: Research Into P53
Current peptides are under development designed specifically to target senescent cells. They are called senolytic drugs which work by delivering cytotoxic compounds into senescent cells to kill them and eliminate them from the body. One of these peptides is called P53.
In a groundbreaking study, the P53 peptide was administered to mice and it was found that it selectively induced complete cell death in only senescent cells. Regular infusions of the peptide destroyed senescent cells and greatly improved the hair growth, fitness stamina and kidney function of aged mice within one month without any negative side effects.
What This Means For You Today
Senolytic Drugs in 2019
It is thought that as we get older and senescent cells build up in our tissues, they contribute to illnesses such as diabetes, cataracts, heart disease and arthritis. As researchers find more compounds that kill off senescent cells, the science has moved into the human trial phase, with studies published as recently as this week showing the successful use of senolytic drugs in patients with diabetes-related kidney disease.
Discovering Biomarkers for Senescence
Other research is aiming to discover reliable, non-invasive biomarkers to measure cellular senescence burden in humans. If research continues to prove successful and safe, anti-aging treatments based around senolytic peptides will not be far behind.
Inhibiting Cell Proliferation With Rapamycin
Rapamycin, a drug originally found in Easter Island bacteria, has been shown to inhibit the proliferation of cells and slow down the rate at which they become senescent. It can lengthen the lives of old mice by 9 to 14 per cent, and it boosts longevity in flies and yeast too. It is currently used as an immunosuppressant to help transplant patients, and is in use and under research as a treatment for a number of diseases and conditions.
Intermittent Fasting Sweeps Out Senescent Cells
There has been a lot of buzz recently around Intermittent Fasting, and it turns out that this lifestyle hack not only helps people to drop body fat and ease the burden on their digestion. Its cleansing mechanism extends to sweeping out some of the old, tired senescent cells from the system. By reducing these cells, system-wide oxidative stress and inflammation are reduced and we are literally rejuvenated.
Are you ready to get optimized? At YM we take senescent cells seriously and use a tailored approach including peptides to lower senescent cells.
Larry Siegel, NP – YM
Larry Siegel is an ARNP and certified SottoPelle practitioner who offers his services at YM clinics in the greater Ocala and The Villages areas of Florida. He founded YM in 2016 in order to create a clinic that offered only the highest quality of ongoing care and anti-aging therapies (including bioidentical hormone replacement, peptide therapy and more) outside the rigid standards of traditional medicine.